Interviewed by Francijn Suermondt
Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
‘Voyager’ are the interestingly unique progressive rock band from Australia and the name on a lot of lips at Ramblin Man Fair….for there were many that couldn’t wait to see and hear their set! With six studio albums under their belt and the seventh well on its way …MGM thought it was high time to have a chat with these rockers from Perth….about backstage shenanigans, bouncing electronic synths and riffs and meaty bottom ends!
FS – Hi I am here at Ramblin Man Fair with the guys from ‘Voyager’ hello to – Alex who plays bass, Danny who sings vocals and plays the guitar. This is the first time that you have been at Ramblin Man this year, how did your set go for you?
Alex – It went swimmingly! You know with a set like this it is always a bit of a scramble, you know we had some backstage stuff to deal with and I think we came through in the end!
FS – Backstage stuff … that sounds deliciously rock n roll!?
Danny – It wasn’t that delicious, we can make it sound delicious if you like?
Alex – We were embroiled in controversy and there was a lot of issues…
FS – Ooohhh what else ….a lot of groupies trying to get to you??
Alex – Yeah and you know loads of gangsters, we had to have few fights, but basically came through in the end!
FS – That’s what a like to hear, excitement backstage. Are you doing a tour around the UK after this aren’t you? When was the last time you were over here?
Alex – We were over here last year, late last year and we played the Underworld…
FS – Ah nice Camden, one of my favourite venues!
Alex – Yeah, we did Camden, we did Birmingham, we did Guildford …popped over to Ireland. And Glasgow too. Every time we come back to the UK it gets better and better! And hopefully, this time will be better again otherwise we are never coming back J
FS – You music has been described, and I quote “bafflingly diverse at times, with a vast array of bouncing electronics, melodica, synths and riffs” AND “full-bodied, pristine pop melodies, balanced by a meaty bottom-end and shape-shifting technicality.” …. Do you agree with these statements?
Alex – I definitely agree with the ‘Meaty Bottom End’ cos that’s my area of expertise
FS – And mine actually at my age!
Alex – Well hello! I love it! Yeah, I really really enjoy hearing how people describe us because it tends to be very different to how we describe ourselves, how we approach the songs and what comes out ….it’s fascinating to hear what people think it sounds like! Cos often the origin of these riffs and the songs come from very unexpected places. You know, we all listen to a vast array of music different genres. And so it is a big melting pot of influences in the jam room and what comes out of it is essential ‘Voyager’ and that’s the beauty of it. We don’t really know how a song or album is going to sound, it just happens organically and the result of that is the quintessential ‘Voyager’ sound….unlike any other sound in the world. Yeah … so I am very happy about that!
FS – And I see that you are announcing that you are signing to the ‘Seasons Of Mist’ label soon? How did that come about?
Danny – Well actually ‘Seasons Of Mist’ have been a label that I have been interested in for some time. They are one of the few niches, metal labels which I think do a good job, I have had mixed reviews of dealing with labels myself and we did the self-funded, crowdfunding thing for a while. But I think in the end when you find a good home, you stick with, you know you are putting your music, your baby into someone else’s hands, but I think with these guys we have made a good choice. Out of any label we could have signed with, I think this is one of the best ones, so we are happy not to be having to do everything ourselves…
FS – Yes, it must be really hard work when you just want to be creative and just get on with what you do best and then you are having to run all the business side of it too….
Danny – Yeah, well the business side of it sometimes takes over….so much so that you are sometimes pleasantly surprised when you actually get in the jam room writing or playing music and not doing budgets and spreadsheets!
FS – How is the rock and prog scene in Australia? I was told recently when I interviewed Airbourne a few months ago, that the festival scene is not that great in Australia. You’ve got all this bloody space, but weirdly there is not that much going on … how do you find playing in Australia compared to the UK?
Alex – Australia is a massively untapped resource of very interesting bands, especially where we come from Perth, there is a lot, I mean, you just have to find it. The thing is we are so far away, it has taken us a long time to get inroads to a lot of markets, it is simply just so expensive to get anywhere. If we do an Australian tour, that is thousands and thousands of dollars to do, it is definitely a struggle a lot of the time. But the vibrancy and the varied genres of bands that Australia have are amazing and feel that it is all coming more clear now…but the funny thing is when we were growing up, our scene that we wanted to be a part of was thriving in places like Stockholm and Norway, and the metal epicentres of the world that were so far away and now it’s amazing to have people like yourself saying ‘What’s happening in Australia?’…we are really trying to put ourselves on the map. We have absorbed everything that the rest of the world has given us for so long and now we are on top…finally!
FS – Yes and you formed in 1999, how do you think the music industry has changed for good or bad and if you had to start all over again would you start then in 1999 or now?
Danny – Definitely then, now is really difficult…I don’t think it has ever been more difficult than now. Because now you have to be not only a musician but also a graphic designer, a social media top gun, you have to invest a lot of money in yourself, to begin with. You have to have your own recording studio, things like that … so it is really difficult. I actually feel really sorry for bands who are starting out now. I think it is hard work no matter when you start, but it was easier for sure when we did, and easier still ten years prior to that and easier again ten years prior to that!
Alex- Yeah, now with the whole music piracy thing, there is a massive entitlement complex going on with audiences. When they think, well why shouldn’t I download the music for free? And when you remove the tangibility of music, we were talking about this before, you know…. What albums did we used to buy and what the covers were like to look at etc. You know these used to be something that you could really hold and have ownership of it was amazing! You know, we are big fans of digital media and I think it is great that I can find a band and download their entire album on iTunes, I can buy it straight away, I always buy it! And having that convenience is great for me as an adult now, but as teenagers you know, we would be sitting in our rooms and playing this stuff on a cd player, you couldn’t see it on a YouTube video of someone playing it, you had to learn this stuff and you develop a real connection this way. That’s why I love the heated discussions musicians have talking about their favourite albums and things, it’s a relationship you have got with the music.
FS – Absolutely, I remember saving up my pocket money, waiting for two weeks for an album to come into my local record shop and it was so special and now it is almost gone to that throwaway feeling that we have in our generation now.
Danny – It’s not just music though. There is a need for instant gratification with everything!
These super cool chaps from Perth, were truly a pleasure to chat to and the passion that they feel about their music was very inspiring. When asked if they found that they were now settled into a groove and stability after their many changes (with Mark Boeijen (drums) (2005–2011) being the last to leave and replaced by Ashley Doodkorte) agreed that they were indeed settled fully into the way of the ‘Voyager’ and everything now just felt right.
With 6 studio albums under their belt already, the last being ‘Ghost Mile’, I was told that they are in the process of writing their seventh album now…. And I for one cannot wait!!
It was a real pleasure chatting (and laughing) with you Danny & Alex …until next time!!!